Recent comments by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner, this week regarding the upcoming American Middle East peace plan quickly became a hot political topic in Israel, and becoming the focus of the Knesset election campaign now underway.
While many on the Israeli right expressed concern over Kushner’s statement that the plan would include provisions “delineating the border”, the chairman of the Republican party’s Israel branch cautioned against a rush to pre-judge the plan, adding that President Trump would not force Israel into any agreement with the Palestinian Authority.
“I would advise people on the right, and that includes myself, not to panic,” said Attorney Marc Zell, a senior member of the Republicans Overseas organization and chief of its Israeli branch.
The Trump administration has refused to release details of its Middle East peace plan, carefully guarding the few copies of the document and limiting the number of people with access to the entire plan to just five in a bid to prevent leaks.
The secrecy surrounding the plan has spawned mass-speculation and false leaks regarding the plan’s provisions.
Zell noted that regardless of the plan’s contents, Israeli leaders should not be overly concerned with the ‘Deal of the Century’, as the president has dubbed it, which is expected to be released after Israel’s April 9th election.
“The rule by Trump is…Trump and his administration will not force Israel to do something that [Israel] views as being against its security interests. If Israel says, ‘No’, Washington won’t force Jerusalem [to accept it], and that is a very important thing.”
But would the mere fact that the Trump administration is putting the proposal on the table not pressure Israel to accept a deal in a way that a more hostile administration, like that of President Obama, would be unable to do?
“I really respect Netanyahu and support him, but when Obama said what he wanted, the Israeli government gave in and accepted the idea of the two-state solution,” Zell said, referring to Netanyahu’s 2009 Bar-Ilan address in which he formally backed the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state.
On the other hand, Zell continued, “If the Israeli government under Netanyahu or someone else will tell Trump that… it cannot accept the provisions on Jerusalem or the right of return, etc., the US won’t force Israel to accept it.”